Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz continued his impressive form at the US Open with a dominant 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory against Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.
It means there will be three former champions in the men’s semifinals at this year’s US Open: Daniil Medvedev, who plays Alcaraz on Friday, and three-time winner Novak Djokovic.
Unseeded American Ben Shelton completes the semifinal line-up, from which Alcaraz and Djokovic, the tournament’s top two seeds, are the strong favorites to reach Sunday’s final in what would be a repeat of the Wimbledon showpiece in July.
“I think they are at a level of their own at the moment,” Zverev told reporters after facing the Spaniard. “The other guys have got to catch up. That’s as simple as that.”
Wednesday’s match was evenly contested until Alcaraz broke at 4-3 in the first set. The 20-year-old started to assert his superiority from there, breaking Zverev twice in the second set and at 4-4 in the third.
He completed the victory in two hours and 30 minutes – racking up 29 winners and electrifying the New York crowd with several huge forehands – before celebrating with an homage to Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham, who responded to the Los Blancos fan on social media, saying: “Que maquina! (what a machine!) Keep going mate.”
Zverev, who was coming off a bruising five-set victory against Jannik Sinner in the previous round, said that he was struggling with discomfort in his left hamstring from the second set onwards, preventing him from generating speed on his serve.
“I think my biggest weapon was kind of taken away after the first set,” he said. “It’s difficult to even compete if you don’t have that.”
A year after claiming his first grand slam title, Alcaraz will now contest his fourth major semifinal. He holds a 2-1 advantage in the head-to-head match-up against Medvedev, including comfortable wins at Indian Wells and Wimbledon earlier this year.
“The last matches that I played against Daniil, I played a tactical game [and] played perfectly,” he told reporters. “I did pretty well, all the things that I had to do against him, so I think my game suits pretty well against that type of opponent, like Daniil.”
Alcaraz’s record at the US Open now stands at 16 wins and one defeat having matched Andre Agassi’s feat as the second man to reach the quarterfinals three times at the tournament before turning 21.
“I think I’m more mature now,” he said when asked how he has changed over the past 12 months. “I grew up a lot since last year. Last year, I was facing my first semifinal of a grand slam. Now, I’m facing my fourth one. I feel like I’m a totally different player.”